IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Limits of governability: Institutional implications for fisheries and coastal governance


  • Jentoft, Svein


Drawing on some recent developments in so-called "interactive governance theory", it is argued that fisheries and coastal governance is basically a relationship between two systems, which could be termed a "governing system" and a "system-to-be-governed." The former system is social: it is made up of institutions and steering mechanisms. The latter system is partly natural, partly social: it consists of an ecosystem and the resources that it harbors, as well as a system of users and stakeholders who form political coalitions and institutions among themselves. Obviously, we need to be concerned with the relationship and interaction between the governing system and the system-to-be-governed, which forms a system in its own right. According to governance theory, these systems share similar structural attributes: they are diverse, complex, dynamic and vulnerable. In order for governance to work they must somehow be compatible, in order to be mutually responsive. This is not a matter of natural mechanism but of institutional design by societal actors such as legislative bodies, planning agencies and civic organizations--alone, or in concert. What conditions, mechanisms and institutions are conducive to creating a better rapport between the governing system and the system-to-be-governed? Before we can start this discussion, we need to rethink our basic assumptions of what governance is, what governors do, and what we can expect from governance. How do we get from where we are now to where we want to be? In order to accomplish this we need something other than an instrumental, rational model. We need "a technology of foolishness" that emphasizes institutional experimentation and learning by doing.

Suggested Citation

  • Jentoft, Svein, 2007. "Limits of governability: Institutional implications for fisheries and coastal governance," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 360-370, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:31:y:2007:i:4:p:360-370

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Eriksson, Hampus & Conand, Chantal & Lovatelli, Alessandro & Muthiga, Nyawira A. & Purcell, Steven W., 2015. "Governance structures and sustainability in Indian Ocean sea cucumber fisheries," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 16-22.
    2. Joseph Luomba & Ratana Chuenpagdee & Andrew M. Song, 2016. "A Bottom-Up Understanding of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing in Lake Victoria," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-14, October.
    3. Derkyi, Mercy & Ros-Tonen, Mirjam A.F. & Kyereh, Boateng & Dietz, Ton, 2013. "Emerging forest regimes and livelihoods in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve, Ghana: Implications for social safeguards," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 49-56.
    4. Herrera-Racionero, Paloma & Lizcano-Fernández, Emmánuel & Miret-Pastor, Lluís, 2015. "“Us” and “them”. Fishermen from Gandía and the loss of institutional legitimacy," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 130-136.
    5. Voyer, Michelle & Gollan, Natalie & Barclay, Kate & Gladstone, William, 2015. "‘It׳s part of me’; understanding the values, images and principles of coastal users and their influence on the social acceptability of MPAs," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 93-102.
    6. Fernández-Vidal, Duarte & Muiño, Ramón, 2014. "Fact or fiction? Assessing governance and co-management of Marine Reserves of Fishing Interest in Cedeira and Lira (NW Spain)," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 15-22.
    7. García-Rivera, Santiago & Sánchez Lizaso, Jose Luis & Bellido Millán, Jose María, 2015. "A quantitative and qualitative assessment of the discard ban in European Mediterranean waters," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 149-158.
    8. Pittman, Jeremy & Armitage, Derek, 2019. "Network Governance of Land-Sea Social-Ecological Systems in the Lesser Antilles," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 61-70.
    9. Rasheed, A. Rifaee, 2020. "Marine protected areas and human well-being – A systematic review and recommendations," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 41(C).
    10. Elizabeth OLMOS-MARTINEZ & Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ-RODRIGUEZ & Silvia SALAS & Alfredo ORTEGA-RUBIO, 2018. "Impact Of The Implementation Of A Protected Area On The Well-Being Of A Rural Community In Baja California Sur," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 18(2), pages 5-22.
    11. Barnes, Michele L. & Arita, Shawn & Kalberg, Kolter & Leung, PingSun, 2017. "When does it pay to cooperate? Strategic information exchange in the harvest of common-pool fishery resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 1-11.
    12. Kahmann, Birte & Stumpf, Klara Helene & Baumgärtner, Stefan, 2015. "Notions of justice held by stakeholders of the Newfoundland fishery," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 37-50.
    13. Song, Andrew, 2018. "Reconstructing Governability: How Fisheries Are Made Governable," MarXiv zavwc, Center for Open Science.
    14. Ratamäki, Outi. & Jokinen, Pekka. & Sorensen, Peter. & Breeze, Tom. & Potts, Simon., 2015. "A multilevel analysis on pollination-related policies," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 133-143.
    15. Di Lucia, Lorenzo, 2013. "Too difficult to govern? An assessment of the governability of transport biofuels in the EU," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 81-88.
    16. Scharin, Henrik & Ericsdotter, Siv & Elliott, Michael & Turner, R. Kerry & Niiranen, Susa & Blenckner, Thorsten & Hyytiäinen, Kari & Ahlvik, Lassi & Ahtiainen, Heini & Artell, Janne & Hasselström, Lin, 2016. "Processes for the sustainable stewardship of marine environments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 55-67.
    17. Standal, Dag & Hersoug, Bjørn, 2014. "Back to square one? Fisheries allocation under pressure," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 236-245.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:31:y:2007:i:4:p:360-370. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.